Having been one of the highest-profile free agents to depart the Chicago Cubs in recent years, and then having returned to the Cubs this year, Jake Arrieta certainly has a unique perspective on guys heading into their walk years. And, as we’ve discussed at length, the Cubs are absolutely loaded with players in their walk year.
So, then, when it comes to the Cubs’ brightest stars who’ve spent their whole careers here, but who are heading toward free agency after this season, I was definitely interested to hear Arrieta’s perspective.
“I don’t know how much advice those guys need from me on that topic,” Arrieta this weekend, per The Athletic. “I would like them to try and put it out of their mind as much as they can, which to do at 100 percent is probably impossible. Because, let’s just face it, that’s a huge moment in each one of their lives and their families’ lives. It’s a big part of the next phase of their career.
“First and foremost, the most important thing is developing that team bond here in Chicago this year, performing to the best of each one of their abilities. Obviously, if they’re able to do that and stay on the field, they’re going to get compensated very well. It is kind of a bittersweet thing, I’m sure, for each of those guys. They’ve all been here for a long time. It’s tough to take the Cubs uniform off.”
Tough to take the Cubs uniform off. Rings a little more strongly from a guy who did leave, and then came back.
Arrieta’s no doubt right that it’s impossible for guys like Kris Bryant and Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo not to think about the combination of free agency looming and also possibly the end of their time with the Cubs. But Arrieta is also probably right that, to the extent possible, staying focused on this year and this year, alone, is probably going to wind up best for everyone. Then, after a good season – if no extensions have been signed – these guys can make the decisions that are right for them at that time.
I can say this: it’s definitely weird to think about those three leaving after this year … and then coming back in three years like Arrieta.